Readers' patches for Casio's CZ5000 and Ensoniq ESQ1, and a review of Leister Productions' Professional patches for D110 & TX81Z make up this month's Patchwork.
Music Technology's monthly look at library patches and samples, and readers' own patches. If you're still waiting to see your particular synth featured in these pages, then why not submit some sounds of your own?
If your work is published, you'll receive a free year's subscription to MT with our compliments.
Send us your favourite sounds on a photocopy of an owner's manual chart (coupled with a blank one for artwork purposes) accompanied by a short demo tape (don't worry too much about classic performances and impeccable recording quality; just present your sounds simply and concisely - and convince us you're the best of the bunch). Include a decent-length description of your sound and its musical purpose in life, and write your full name and address on each chart. And remember, edited presets are all very well, but an original masterpiece is always preferable. OK?
Seppo Tapaninen, Finland
Some competent and observant programming from regular contributor Seppo, has produced this very analogue-sounding patch from PD synthesis. Power Synth has a deep, resonant bottom end, "excellent for lower sequenced parts", or you can play it in the upper registers for a great lead sound.
Pascal Magdinier, Reigate
I'm convinced that this patch is destined to become a firm favourite with ESQ1 owners everywhere: a realistic, atmospheric piano sound, with a lush string sustain, this one stands beautifully by itself, perhaps with just a touch of reverb.
D110 Professional Sounds
The presets on the D110 are quite impressive - at least I think so - but a couple of people have commented that, because of the unit's internal architecture, it's difficult to create sounds which are radically different. That's assuming you can find your way through the minefield of Timbres, Tones, Patches, Parts and Banks. It's interesting, therefore, to see what sort of sounds the professionals can produce.
Leister's D110 sounds are split into two banks of 64 sounds and are compatible with the D10 and D20 (and probably the new D5, although this is unconfirmed at the time of writing).
The first bank warms up with some synthy stuff, moves on to brass and lead sounds, followed by slow string-like sounds and sweeping pads (I'm a sucker for these). It ends with heavy synth/guitars and basses.
The second bank begins with some guitar/piano combinations, continues with bells and chimes, pads, brass, woodwind and organs. It concludes with some effects, such as '5th Climb' (guess what this does), 'ChildsPlay' (random pitches) and 'Alienz' which produces a long, slow downwards sweep with a choir over the top. I don't know how I could use it but I love it.
I have to confess to just a little disappointment, as certain of the sounds were pretty similar to each other - although Leister have at least placed them in adjacent memory locations. Check out, for example, 'SweepTrack', 'FilmTrack' and 'Film Strng' or 'Fat Analog' and 'Chop Saw'. You can tell what the common elements are and you can hear where envelope or timbre substitutions have been made. Is this really a result of the D110's architecture or, dare I suggest, did Leister have an off day? Personally, I'd have preferred diversity to subtlety.
Then there are some real aces here, too. 'VocalPluck' sounds like it says, but it's a nice combination. 'Fantasy' does bear a resemblance to the 'Fantasy' in Preset b1 but it has more je ne sais quoi (how else can you describe a soft after-tinkle?) and is altogether rather more tasty (there is also an oriental version called 'Flantasy').
'Evolve' is a slowly unwinding pad with a touch of fizz and 'Rhythm Pno' is one of the best up-front piano sounds I've heard on the D110. Some nice organs here, too (can I say that in print?).
The sounds work out around 23p each which is par for the course for the D110. Perhaps they aren't all startlingly original but they are useable, subtleties and all.
TX81Z Professional Sounds
This package contains a mammoth 288 sounds (voices in Yamaha-speak) spread over nine banks of 32.
Frank Leister has put a lot of thought into the creation of these - he hasn't just tweaked a few parameters and stuck another name on. Many sounds "move" and change tone as they evolve. Many respond to velocity information, too, by becoming duller or brighter or by adding extra tones. Here's a brief run-down.
Bank A contains a goodly selection of movin' synthy/percussive sounds both soft and meaty. Bank B has lots of basses and some organ sounds including a tasty distorted Hammond with slow chorale.
Bank C contains a collection of pianos, the sort of sounds FM is very good at, including some very useable Rhodes sounds. (Who said "If I ever hear another FM piano on a record, I'll scream?"). I discovered a cute, soft Wurlitzer piano sound here, nice for laid-back reggae.
Bank D is brass. Full, rich, smooth, soft, angry - all sorts - plus fluty woodwindy sounds. In E you'll find chimes and tinkly sounds, something else FM excels at. Some have a soft pad underneath and there are pads on their own. There are also some solo sounds (which FM is good at) and ensembles (which it's not so good at).
If it's F it must be more pads. This is probably my favourite bank (ever since NatWest said "No" - and I hadn't even asked a question). It's full of slow, lush, big-wash sounds which take forever to complete. Wallow in them when you're zonked, be creative with them when you're not.
G is a mixture of lead/syn/guitar sounds and is probably my least-fave bank - but I did like 'Fat Lead'. I won't tell you what it reminded me of.
H houses sounds which could probably fit into all the other banks and bank I contains all those sounds you think are great but just can't find a use for. What about 'Jazz Solo' which plays a random sequence of notes every time you hit a key? Or the Venusian Spacecraft sounds of 'Tricorder', 'Star Trek' and SpaceDrops'? Some drum sounds here, too.
OK, I can't pretend that I loved every sound, but in truth there were only perhaps a dozen which really grated - know what I mean? And one man's caterwaul is another man's choir.
There are also 24 Performance Setups and Effects for use with a file containing a collection of sounds from the nine banks. These produce some super combinations. 'Metal 5ths' is your original HM guitar power chord, 'dim7thBell' produces cascades of tinkerbells - loved this.
The sounds are fully compatible with the DX11 and can be loaded into the DX100, DX27 and DX21, although the TX's extra parameters are ignored.
At somewhere between 9p and lOp per sound, this is a far better investment than six pints of lager and a Chinese curry. Stay in next Friday and buy this instead. Your gut and ears will thank you for it.
Both sets of sounds are available in a variety of formats including self-load disks for the Atari ST, IBM PC and Amiga, data cassettes and RAM Cards (supply your own or buy them extra). The D110 ST disk contains a Shareware program called Mini-Dumpstor which operates as a desk accessory and will send a file - any file if you're not careful - out via MIDI.
All popular sequencer/editor/librarian formats can be accommodated; if you want a particular format, MIDI Music can probably supply it. Do get their catalogue, too - it's crammed with lists of sounds for just about everything!
Price £29.99 per disk, irrespective of format.
Gear in this article:
Feature by Ian Waugh